Everything I Ever Wanted, All At Once

Everything I Ever Wanted, All At Once

Cole Bennett, Editor-in-Chief

  What would life be like if fingers were hot dogs? What if an everything bagel had literally everything on it? What if Ratatouille happened in the real world with a raccoon? What do all of these questions have in common? They’re all questions answered in one delightfully bizarre adventure through the multiverse.

  Everything Everywhere All At Once was released on April 8, 2022. Written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the movie stars Michelle Yeung, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis. The film is a journey through the life of Evelyn Wang. She’s visited by a version of her husband from an alternate universe who warns her about a multiversal threat. She is attacked, and has to hone the skills of her alternate selves in order to survive.

  Now, personally, I’m a huge fan of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who often are recognized under their shared first names, Daniels. Daniels debut feature film was Swiss Army Man, released in 2017. Swiss Army Man is one of my favorite films of all time, second only to Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. It stars Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe in a journey of self-discovery that asks the question, “What if Wilson from Castaway was a talking corpse?” It’s bizarre, but profound. The overarching themes, messages, and subtext are surprisingly strong for a movie that opens with a farting corpse flying across the ocean like a jet-ski. This is the style of Daniels. Beautiful, heartfelt themes woven into truly bizarre stories. And boy oh boy did they bring that energy to Everything Everywhere All At Once.

  Like I mentioned, this movie has some weird stuff; hot dog fingers, a raccoon chef, lots of googly eyes, Jamie Lee Curtis as a pro-wrestler, and what could only be described as fanny-pack combat. But the movie also has some really touching moments. Even though the movie has to do with the multiverse and all sorts of related hijinks, the story boils down to the protagonist, Evelyn, trying to come to terms with what she has made of her life. She sees her relationship with her father, her husband, and especially her daughter in different ways across different universes. This movie isn’t afraid to get weird, but it also isn’t afraid to break through all of that weirdness to deliver some truly touching moments. Without revealing much more, all I’m saying is that you might wanna bring a pack of tissues to the theater for this one, just to be safe.

  The style of bizarre, off-the-wall antics juxtaposed with emotional and dramatic storytelling is what makes this movie so unique and refreshing. Too often, in my opinion, movies take themselves too seriously. In an attempt to be profound, these movies will have scenes of characters sobbing and telling the story of their life backed with a violin and cello duet, designed to hopefully make you cry along with them. It’s the stuff often described as Oscar-bait, an attempt to seem dramatic and heartfelt just by throwing all of the dramatic ingredients into the mix, because other successful movies have done it before, so why wouldn’t it work this time too? It’s an uncreative, soulless approach that has been done to death time and time again, with mostly diminishing returns.

  Instead of all of the sobbing and sad music, one of the most emotional scenes in Everything Everywhere All At Once is quite literally two rocks on the edge of a cliff. That’s it. Two rocks, sitting in utter silence, communicating as they stare out at the horizon.

  Now, I’m gonna be honest. I’m a snob. I don’t know if you’ve picked up on that yet or not, but as an aspiring filmmaker, I love this kind of crazy experimental stuff. It’s the stuff that I want to make. So, recognizing my personal biases, I will take a step back and admit some flaws about this style of storytelling. It’s out there. It’s weird. And because of that, it’s not for everyone. It’s a little artsy, it’s immature at times, and there are certain scenes with sexual material that I can barely defend. This is a school newspaper, so pardon me for not going into detail. Just do some quick research on this one before you take your parents to see it, that’s all I’m saying. 

  Through all of the aforementioned flaws however, I tend to think the ridiculous antics portrayed throughout the film are still genuinely enjoyable. I think that this movie tends to be less artsy, and definitely less fartsy, than its predecessor, Swiss Army Man, and I think in this case, the more direct approach to storytelling actually helps this movie be more enjoyable. While there are some storytelling choices that can be seen as overly artsy, there’s not a lot of distracting subtext or ambiguous plot points, because there’s already enough other stuff going on, with the hot dog fingers and the raccoons and all that. Simple storytelling is not inherently a bad thing, and this movie proves that point pretty well.

  There are a few other things about this movie that are worth mentioning. The costume design is absolutely phenomenal. It is one of the highlights of the movie. I could go on and on about it, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so just see the movie for yourself and you’ll pick up on what I mean pretty quickly. The movie also moves and flows very well. It’s almost two and a half hours long, at 139 minutes, but it doesn’t feel like it. The story never slows down once it picks up, something that a lot of longer movies struggle to do. The performances were also a highlight, especially from Michelle Yeung, Stephanie Hsu, and Jamie Lee Curtis. They bring life to the multiple iterations of the characters they play. Seeing such a variety of performances all in one movie really proves the skills of the lead actresses and actors.

  One more highlight of this movie is the casual blend of languages. It’s a small thing, but it’s a bold choice on the part of Daniels to feature two foreign languages in an American made movie. In several scenes throughout the movie, characters speak fluent mandarin and cantonese, with subtitles providing an english translation. The use of subtitles is sometimes seen as controversial, a stigma that stems from a lack of cultural diffusion in traditional American media. Everything Everywhere All At Once is one of several recent movies that are making a move toward a new, less culturally isolated era of the film industry. It’s a seemingly insignificant thing, and that’s kind of the point. The movie is not at all made less enjoyable by this one simple detail. If anything, it brings more authenticity to the characters, helping the audience feel closer to Evelyn and her family.

  Everything Everywhere All At Once is a wild, fun, and emotional ride. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and then you’ll do it all over again. It’s really something special when a movie can evoke emotion like that. I give it a personal rating of nine googly eyes out of ten.

  Everything Everywhere All At Once is rated R for violence and sexual content. This movie contains several scenes with flashing images and colors.